Monday, December 3, 2012

Straight and narrow

How lovely would it be if all of our nails grew evenly and straight?! This is the stuff of dreams! Well, maybe second to winning the lottery. If you weren't blessed (because I sure as hell wasn't), grab your favorite gentle nail file and join me in this tutorial! I recommend either a 220-320 grit strength for strong healthy nails or a 400-600 grit strength (or high quality crystal nail file) for weak problem nails. Here is a nail file post for reference.

I don't know about you, but my nails curve, wonk and do crazy things depending on factors such as water exposure, moisture content and whether they are polished or unpolished. I do pay special attention to filing to make them appear straight and narrow.

At this point, this filing technique is so automatic for me, it's hard to find a before picture. I would have to let my nails grow for quite a while and endure the fatness, crookedness and unevenness. And well, that is REALLY hard. The fact that I know they can look better with a few simple strokes of the file is just too much temptation to not do it all the time.

The look we are going for is very symmetrical. We are going to shoot for even nail beds, paying particular attention to the nail side wall to make it look nice and even...

Essie - Licorice
There are several factors that do not allow my nails to look like this all the time naturally.
First... there is the wonk:

I have discussed how to improve a wonky curvy nail in this post. For me, keeping the nail hydrated and at a length below a certain point makes the wonk improve. One thing I did not mention in that post is how we can also manipulate the nail side walls with filing, to create a more even appearance.

If you take a look at your nail from the side you may see this..

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

First, notice the curve. Some nails are worse than others. Second, notice the extra overhang at the tip of the nail (free edge) particularly more obvious in the second picture. I can't change that curve shape (my first concern); it is inherent, but I can play with the angles and eliminate the over hang (my second concern). If I file the nail side walls like this...

....suddenly the nail appears flatter and straighter...

I would advise being very careful while filing the nail side wall. I stressed that point in this and this post. Please read those posts first before attempting... don't fret, there are pictures!

This filing technique is really the key to getting my nails straight. Now, let's look at the c-curve of this nail.
Filing the sides (carefully!) allows me to straighten any imperfections in the c-curve. You may notice your nail c-curve is longer, heavier or curvier on the left vs. the right. Afterwords, my left and right side is not only balanced (I've included a white line that your eye can follow), but some of the c-curve is relaxed a bit. See if you can release/relax your c-curve by filing the sides off a bit. I think this helps trim off some of the weight. Your nail may appear more narrow.

A few small strokes of the nail file allows you to create a much straighter balanced nail. Using a gentle file and the correct technique, I strongly encourage you to play around with your nails to see what kind of shape and balance you can create.

And now for one of my favorite sexy polishes shown above....

Essie - Urban Express



  1. Oh man, I hate my wonky nails! My biggest problem is that my nails are placed at weird angles on my fingers! Drives me nuts! Wish you had a trick to fix that!

  2. Your nails are great!! Kiss and have an happy evening

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  3. I always geek out when you have new nail care posts...I love it.

  4. Wonderful post, my dear! You have no idea how much I've learned about nail care from you. Keep up the fantastic work. ;-)


  5. Your filing posts are my favorite! I have strongly curved nails in both directions like yours, and a "wonk" on both my index nails. I can't wait to try this out and see if I can help my nails look more even!

  6. I have the "wonk" on some of my nails too! (I'm looking at you left pointer and right middle!). My C-curve is very pronounced as well. I love your filing posts because we have very similar curves to our nails. (Who says curvy nails can't be sexy nails, haha!) Do you have one nail that is better than the other same nail on the opposite hand? Or is that only me? eg, my left middle finger is way nicer than my right one... Anyway, loved the post Miss Loodie!

  7. Looks simple enough! I am so glad it didn't involve the Fibonacci sequence or my head would be spinning!

  8. Thanks for the tip! I am definitely going to try this on my wonky nails!

  9. I have that janky nail wonk too, but I've always been wary of filing the sides. :D

  10. Oh how I wish my nails could grow up to be like yours! Hehehe! Am so freakin jealous!

  11. That mani with black polish is so gorgeous!

  12. Hello! New fan! I just found your Youtube videos and wanted to thank you! I have had acrylic nails for over 20 years and last year my finger tips and nail bed began to hurt. I decided to remove the acrylic in June of this year. Wow, my nail beds were so damaged. I began weekly soakings and had to keep filing what little nail grew. They did not grow at all, a few did but were paper thin. Since I had no nail products at home, I purchased a good file and clear hardener. I suddenly noticed I wasn't biting my nails (which is why I did acrylics). It has been six months and they are growing and much stronger. I have been trying to shape them square and so far there are 6 doing great. I just have to keep filing once a week, hopefully pretty soon I will have them all the same length and will start collecting polish! Thank you again for the helpful videos and tips. I have a lot of reading to catch up on your blog.

  13. I wonder how to file for nails that tend to grow upward instead of curving down?

  14. You're my new hero! I have a couple of nails with wonk and I'm constantly annoyed with them. This is great info!!!

  15. This post is AWESOME and super helpful! Any tips on nails that simply grow crooked or appear to be placed on the finger crooked? My index fingernail points to about a sixty degree angle, no matter how I file it!! I need help!!

  16. I am so glad that I found you!!!! You really do in depth tutorials. You are amazing.

  17. Was there an answer to the question about dealing with nails that grow upwards instead of down?

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